By Calvin Palmer
The Supreme Court says a school’s strip search of a 13-year-old Arizona girl accused of having prescription-strength ibuprofen was illegal.
The court ruled today that school officials violated the law with their search of Savana Redding, of Safford in rural eastern Arizona.
Redding was an eighth grade student at Safford Middle School when the strip search was conducted. The principal of the school got a pill from one of Redding’s classmates who, under questioning, said she got the pills from Redding.
Redding was questioned by school officials and denied bringing pills to school, denied distributing pills to classmates. She said she did not mind being searched.
She was taken to the school nurse’s office and told to pull her bra to the side and shake it, exposing her breasts, and being told to pull her underwear out of her crotch and shake it, exposing her pubic area. The search produced nothing.
The ruling puts new limits on the broad latitude the high court had previously afforded public school administrators to search students and their belongings for evidence of drugs and other contraband.
The court tempered the impact of its ruling by saying that Redding cannot seek damages from the assistant principal who ordered the strip search because the right was not “clearly established” at the time.
The case is Safford Unified School District v. April Redding, 08-479.